Who knew that service parts belong in service centers?

Strange things said by Elon Musk in Tesla earnings call

Yes, they made money. Yes, they're making more Model 3s. Yes, he's talking Model Y. But during the Tesla Q4 earnings call this week, Elon Musk made some observations that have oddly gone under the radar although they are key aspects of the man and the company that he runs.

'Pretty nutty'

According to Musk, Tesla's sales are on a roll, not only in 2018, but going into 2019, despite what might happen economically: "Even if there's a global recession, we're expecting deliveries this year to be about 50% higher than last year."

He added, "It could be a lot more than that."

Which he himself admitted, "But even with tough economic times, to see 50% growth is pretty nutty."

An interesting definition

"A large complex manufactured object." That's how Musk described what they're making.

Perhaps a Coke machine in the lobby, too

"I think we made a strategic error in the past about not having service parts located at our service centers. We had them in parts distribution warehouses, which basically meant it was impossible to have a fast turnaround on servicing a car, because the car would come in, then the parts will be requested, they come to the service center, this would basically — even if they're very simple, repair could take days."

Perhaps they should have used FedEx.

"So we're going to be able to stock in all common parts at the service centers."

Hard to imagine that this is the same man who has managed to launch and land spacecraft.

Calling all tsars ...

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the House of Fabergé created ornate jeweled Easter eggs for Russian Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas II. All in, over 32 years, there were some 69 of these treasured objects created; 57 remain today.

Those eggs are the definition of the word exquisite.

So what does this have to do with Tesla? Well even though we know, we really don't know.

According to Musk, the Model X is "sort of the Fabergé egg of cars."

He added, "It's an incredible vehicle and probably one — probably nothing like it will ever be made again, and maybe it shouldn't."

Which is a hell of a thing to say about the second best-selling car in the lineup in 2018.

Musk reiterated, "But it is a work of art. It's a special work of art."

Given some of the issues with the falcon-wing doors, the word "egg" comes to mind in a different context, as in "laid an."

Test drivers wanted

Musk was asked about the Morgan Stanley valuation of Waymo at $175 billion ("Ha, ha, ha. Sorry," he said) and the importance of autonomous driving technology to Tesla.

"The point of Tesla comes down to two things: acceleration of sustainable energy and autonomy."

He went on to point out, "I think we have an advantage that no one else has, which is that we have, at this point, somewhere on the order of 300,000 vehicles on the road"— all outfitted with an array of sensors, all connected to Tesla.

"So, effectively, we have a massive, massive training fleet."

He went on to say, "Certainly 18 months from now we''ll probably have 1 million vehicles on the road, and every time the customers drive the car, they're training the systems to be better."

Shouldn't test drivers get paid?

Will it be a tent?

At the beginning of January, Tesla broke ground on a production site in China, the Shanghai Gigafactory.

"By the end of this year," Musk said, "we expect to be producing Model 3s using a complete production line."

He enumerated, "That's body, paint, final assembly, general assembly, and module production."

He admitted that the factory is "going to go up like lightning." (When discussing the aforementioned service improvements, he not only cited Jiffy Lube ... which is odd given the oil-change predication of that business ... but said, "It should be like lightning fast.")

Getting a factory up and running within a year is quite a feat.

According to the World Bank, in 2018 it took 155.10 days to build a warehouse in China. That's just a warehouse, not a factory.

Isn't money always an issue?

Speaking of the Model 3, Musk said, "The customer happiness level with the car is incredible. I think probably the highest of any car in the world right now."

In addition, "The demand for the Model 3 is insanely high."

But there's one small problem with even more people gaining happiness: "The inhibitor is affordability. It's just like people literally don't have the money to buy the car. It's got nothing to do with desire. They just don't have enough money in their bank account."

Imagine that.

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